Asian carriers begin rollout of cross-border mobile payments service

Singtel and AIS debut Via, Asia’s first cross-border mobile payment alliance — Singtel — “The Via alliance is the first initiative of its kind to connect both telco and non-telco mobile wallets across borders to create a region-wide payment network that will enable consumers to use their local mobile wallets when travelling. The Singtel Group will progressively expand this alliance to include other regional associates Airtel in India, Globe in the Philippines, Telkomsel in Indonesia, working within each country’s regulations, and non-telcos including China’s Ping An eWallet.”


Tencent uses face recognition to verify the age of mobile game players

Honour of Kings uses facial recognition to check ages — BBC — “The mobile app resembles League of Legends and pits players against each other in multiplayer online battles set in a fantasy world. Under pressure from local regulators, Tencent introduced restrictions in July 2017 to limit under-12s to one hour of gameplay a day and 13- to 18-year-olds to a maximum of two hours. Last month, the company added a real-name registration system to encourage players to keep to the rules.”


Micro loans let Chinese consumers buy snacks and lipsticks on credit

Chinese millennials are buying hamburgers on instalment, fuelling micro loan industry — South China Morning Post — “A small layer cake can be had for as low as 0.46 yuan per month for three years, or there’s lipstick for only 1.93 yuan (3 US cents) per month for two years. Interest rates differ based on the product price and repayment period but some loans are offered interest free.”


Beijing to pilot face recognition payments at railway ticketing barriers

Facial recognition ticket gates to be introduced this year — Metro Report International — “The gates offer two operating modes. In the first, a passenger’s photo is stored on a physical ticket, and when the passenger touches in at the ticket gate this photo is compared with a live image… In the other mode, a live image is compared with a photo previously uploaded to a database, so no physical ticket is needed. This offers operators the ability to block specified people from entering the network.”


Huami includes NFC for travelcards, payments and access control in $116 budget smartwatch

Huami announces launch of new Amazfit Verge smartwatch — Huami — “Digital wallet functionality in conjunction with UnionPay and Alipay, combined with integrated one-touch public transportation payment in over 160 cities in China, [helps] users capture the convenience of full digital transactions (through NFC and QR codes). The Verge can be also used as entrance access device utilising NFC technology.”


Xiaomi to ship $29 fitness tracker with support for Mi Pay NFC payments

Xiaomi Mi Band 3 NFC version to go on sale on September 19; Total wearable sales exceed 50m — Gizmochina — “The company has officially confirmed that it will begin the sales of the Mi Band 3 NFC edition starting from Sept 19 with a price tag of 199 Yuan (US$29 approx)… Apart from supporting contactless payment POS terminals enabled with NFC, the Mi Band 3 NFC version will support city bus card payments in [as] many as 167 cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Suzhou, Hefei, Xi’an, and Jilin among others in China.”


Chinese banks report 73% growth in mobile payment transactions

Mobile payment on fast growth in China — Xinhua — “The country’s banks processed 14.92bn mobile payment transactions in Q2, up 73% year on year, according to the People’s Bank of China. The value of these transactions totalled 62.88tn yuan (US$9.15tn), up 60% year on year… Online payment transaction value by non-banking institutions totalled 48.29tn yuan in Q2, up 53.35% year on year.”




Central bank tightens rules on accepting cards and cash in Chinese stores

As China goes increasingly cashless, PBOC says cash payment is still alive — South China Morning Post — “The central bank in China, the world’s largest mobile payment market, is urging individuals and companies to not refuse or discriminate against cash payment… The PBOC said cash should be accepted alongside the debit card at all business outlets, with the exception of e-commerce and unstaffed stores. Businesses have one month from Friday to make necessary adjustments to avoid being investigated for breaches by the authorities.”


Marriott to let Chinese guests use face recognition to check in to its hotels

Joint venture of Alibaba Group and Marriott International trials facial recognition check-in technology — Marriott International — “The pilot will kick off from July 2018 at two Marriott International properties in China — Hangzhou Marriott Hotel Qianjiang and Sanya Marriott Hotel Dadonghai Bay, with the goal of global rollout across Marriott International’s properties in the future… Chinese guests simply need to scan their IDs, take a photo and input contact details on a self-help machine. The intelligent device will then dispense room key cards after identities and booking information are verified.”


Chinese mobile payments providers begin charging fees to users

Tencent’s WeChat widens service fee for users of ‘card repay’ feature in digital wallet — South China Morning Post — “In line with international practice, there are no free financial services. WeChat previously paid the credit card repayment fee for users, going forward the new fee chargeable to customers will support sustainable development [of the service],” said a Tencent spokesman in response to a request for comment.”


Chinese consumers have now deposited $150bn with Alipay and Tencent

PBOC to raise reserve funds ratio for third-party payment firms to 100% — Caixin — “The two largest third-party payment firms, Alipay and Tenpay, combined hold nearly 1tn yuan (US$151bn) of customers’ funds, about 90% of the total reserve funds… Reserve funds are prepayments from online shoppers held temporarily by payment companies that can then earn income on the cash by depositing it in banks or even buying government bonds… The requirement means payment firms such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd backed Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd’s Tenpay can no longer invest money deposited by their respective clients.”


Chinese university pilots face recognition for campus access control

Peking University installs facial recognition system for students and staff on campus gate — South China Morning Post — “Anyone going through the southwestern gate of prestigious Peking University can now have their face scanned by a camera instead of showing their ID card to security guards under a trial run of the system that started on Wednesday… It is not the university’s first use of the technology on campus — it has already installed about two dozen facial recognition devices outside some of its libraries, classrooms, student dormitories, gymnasiums and computer centres.”



Chinese banks report strong growth in bank card usage

China has over 7bn bank cards — Xinhua — “China had issued 7.03bn bank cards by the end of 2017, meaning each Chinese person has about five cards on average… Last year, the number of transactions via bank cards rose 29.4% to 149bn, with a total of 735 trillion yuan (about US$113tn) swiped from bank cards. Consumption via bank cards accounted for 48.7% in China’s total retail sales of consumer goods.”


Beijing metro looks to biometrics to speed up payments at turnstiles

Beijing subways to get bio-ID system — China Daily — “Two bio-recognition technologies — facial recognition and palm touch — are being considered, said Zhang Huabing, head of enterprise development for Beijing Subway… Facial recognition technology can track passenger movements with cameras connected to online networks that recognize people when they enter a station, potentially allowing them to bypass traditional ticketing.”


Ant Financial to pivot away from Alipay?

Exclusive: Ant Financial shifts focus from finance to tech services: sources — Reuters — “Ant Financial Services Group, the dominant Chinese fintech company, is shifting its main focus to technology services and away from payments and consumer finance as Beijing’s crackdown on financial risk deepens, four sources with knowledge of the matter said… They said the move was propelled, in part, by growing regulatory pressure on Ant’s core financial businesses, including payments, micro lending, credit rating and wealth management.”


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